Fiery crash kills a Sylvester man - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Fiery crash kills a Sylvester man

February 13, 2007

Calhoun County-  Tuesday morning's thick fog is blamed for a fiery crash that killed a Sylvester man.  Investigators say 45 year old Tony Hayes didn't see the stop sign at Bray Street on Highway 55 in Calhoun County. 

His big rig ran off into a field, overturned and burst into flames. The tanker with 8,500 gallons of gasoline separated from the cab and both burned. The Georgia State Patrol said the cab flipped several times, throwing Hayes into the field. Hayes died at the scene. The wreck happened around 2:00 a.m.

Tony Hayes had worked for the Georgia Forestry Commission for 12 years and during that time had traveled out west to help fight forest fires. Several years ago Hayes decided to make a career change and began driving for Hatcher Petroleum Transport in Albany. Co-workers say Hayes drove the route between Albany and Dothan twice a week.

A burned out shell is all that's left of Tony Hayes' cab. Hayes was traveling south on Highway 55 near Leary in this morning's thick fog when he realized too late he'd reached the dead end at Bray Street.

"On the way here, the visibility was maybe a car length if that, I mean it was very very thick," said Keith Mills, Hatcher Petroleum Transport Dispatcher.

Fellow employees at the scene said Hayes frequently drove the route between Albany and the Raceway in Dothan.

"He always seemed to choose this one, I don't know if it was the countryside or what it was," said Mills.

As they stood at the scene trying to understand what went wrong they talked about Tony Hayes who they knew as Skippy, a handle given to him by another driver.

"Tony was about top of the line as far as people if you needed a friend Tony was there, always, thick or thin, or whatever Tony had his good days and bad days but he never seemed to show it he was always high spirited," said Mills. 

While most of the fuel burned in the crash, fellow workers could only stand by and watch as Hazardous Material crews moved in to continue the cleanup.

"We will dig the material up, put it on Poly, seal it from the environment, that way we can do proper sampling, testing, get it to the proper disposal facility, dispose of it," said Jimmy Posey, Environmental HazMat Services.

One thing co-workers say they won't dispose of is their memories of Hayes or his friendship.

Tony Hayes is survived by his wife and four children.

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